SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — An Illinois Lawmaker wants to empower judges to remove guns from the hands of those accused of domestic violence.

“I believe this bill, specifically, this part of the bill will have an impact and remove firearms from many volatile situations, preventing intimate partner homicide,” Representative Denyse Wang Stoneback (D-Skokie) said.

When a domestic abuse victim asks for an order of protection, there is a two week period before the hearing. A judge will often issue an emergency order of protection during that time. Right now, courts often wait to suspend a suspect’s FOID card after that emergency order is over. But Stoneback’s bill would allow judges to suspend FOID cards during the emergency order of protection period as well.

According to Stoneback, Some have the power to suspend somebody’s FOID Card along with issuing the emergency order of protection. Stoneback’s bill would ensure that the judge’s understand they have that power in law.

“Judges in Illinois have interpreted sometimes a lot in both directions,” Stoneback said. “Sometimes they have removed firearms, with ex parte hearings due to imminent dangerous or volatile situations, and in light of the fact that the respondent will have notice of hearing at a later date, and other other judges have chosen not to remove firearms during this period.”

Before seeking out an order of protection, a victim of domestic violence often assesses if they are endangering themselves even more, according to the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence. If they know their abuser has a gun, it just adds another layer onto an already difficult decision.

“They have to consider everything, including, if I go to court and ask for an order of protection, and include the remedy for removal of guns, will that further put me in more danger?” Vickie Smith with the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence said. “Or Will it further infuriating the person who’s harming me, or will I actually get some service and have those guns removed so that I feel safer, and it’s something that a survivor always has to weigh.”

The Illinois Coalition against Domestic Violence believes that many victims don’t trust the order of protection system, but that trust is crucial, because without it, they may not step forward and report their abuse.

“It’s long been a personal frustration of mine, that people think that, oh, let’s create an order of protection, because that’s going to be the way to protect people. That’s only the very first step. And everybody has to understand the mechanisms by which orders of protection work in order to make them work.

The bill would also extend the amount of time an accused abuser’s FOID card would be suspended.
If the judge suspends their FOID card, it would be for either 2 years, or the duration of the order of protection — whichever is longer.